Florida’s Walt Disney World opened its doors on October 1, 1971. In its 40+ year history, rides and attractions have come and gone. The resort areas have expanded, and shows have been added. Many people who have visited the park multiple times in each decade of its history have a nostalgia for a certain ride or attraction that is no more.
The history and evolution of Disney World is a fascinating history, but over the course of time certain pieces of information about the parks and the people who work there have become well-established. “Misinformation” or “myths about Disney World” – let’s debunk some of them.
- Walt Disney is one of the singing busts on the Haunted Mansion ride
Near the end of the Haunted Mansion ride, guests in the Doombuggies are treated to five busts in the graveyard singing the song “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” Images of characters singing are projected onto the busts. One of them (nicknamed Uncle Theodore) is broken. The face projected onto that broken bust resembles Walt Disney in his old age, but actually it’s singer Thurl Ravencroft. (Ravenscroft is known as the original voice of Tony the Tiger, and as the singer of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.) Some cast members may tell you it is Disney, but that’s not the case!
- Walt Disney is buried (or cryogenically frozen) under the Pirates of the Caribbean ride
This is perhaps the oldest myth at Walt Disney World. Disney passed away in 1966, and was cremated two days after his death. Walt Disney World was not opened until 1971. Although it would certainly have been appropriate for his ashes to be scattered somewhere in Wald Disney World, the truth is that they are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
- Toy Story characters will drop to the ground if someone shouts, “Andy’s coming!”
In the movie Toy Story and its sequels, all the toys will “stop and drop” as soon as any human enters their space, not just Andy – the young owner of the Toy Story toys. When the Toy Story characters were first introduced to Walt Disney World in 2007, occasionally someone would yell “Andy’s coming” and according to at least one cast member, the characters would indeed “stop and drop.” However, the costumes worn by Toy Story cast members are so unwieldy that if they did stop and drop, they would not be able to rise again without assistance. So, long story short, no, the Toy Story characters do not react when anyone yells, “Andy’s coming.”
- Johnny Depp visits Adventureland in disguise as Captain Jack Sparrow
During the height of Pirates of the Caribbean mania, a Captain Jack Sparrow animatronic figure (as well as one of Captain Barbossa) were added to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Rumor has it that Johnny Depp would occasionally don his Sparrow costume and take over for the animatronic figure.
As cool as that might have been, it’s just a myth – there is no way the insurers of Disney World’s would allow an actor of Depp’s stature to appear unaccompanied in the park, let alone on a ride! Nor will Depp impersonate a Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator at the Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial!
- Marilyn Monroe was the inspiration for Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell may be blonde and buxom, but she was actually modeled after Margaret Kerry. The actress spent a month dressed in a Tinkerbell costume, being filmed on an empty sound stage performing Tinkerbell’s actions from the movie. Artists then used this footage as a reference figure for animating the pixie realistically.
- Disney Characters are everywhere in the parks
Many years ago, it was possible for guests at the park to see several Disney Characters wandering around randomly. However, that has not been the case for some time. Disney Characters have their own specific Meet and Greet locations, and there are also Character Breakfast or Dinners where, for an extra fee, you can interact with them.
But the days of turning around and seeing a Disney Character standing there unexpectedly are over.
- It never rains at Disney World
This myth is one that most vacationers believe about anywhere they are going on vacation that they choose because of its warm weather. Florida is certainly blessed with beautiful warm and sunshiny weather, which is why all the theme parks there, not just Disney World, can stay open every day of the year.
But it does rain over Disney World, usually in the evening, and usually just for a few minutes. However, occasionally the rain is more severe and outdoor attractions and events simply must be canceled for the safety both of the Cast Members and of the guests. And no, Disney World cannot give refunds if it rains while you are they – they have no control over the weather. There is no “Disney dome” that protects Disney World from bad weather.
- The Disney Dome protects Disney World from the weather
This is not so much a myth as an unrealistic expectation from certain guests who are outraged that Disney should allow it to rain while they are in the park. In the late 1960s, when Walt Disney was planning another theme park and was thinking of building it in New Jersey, the idea of a dome to protect the entire park from winter weather was discussed – but quickly dropped.
- Disney cast members can’t say “no” to a request
It’s certainly true that Disney World cast members are trained to deliver the best possible service to all guests in the park. However, they are allowed to refuse a request if it puts them, or the guest, at risk. Cast members cannot stop what they are doing to ride a ride with a guest, for example.
- Disney World never closes
Disney World opens its doors 365 days a year. However, although it is rare, Disney World will not open if there is a hurricane headed in its direction.
Having said that, Disney World is not open 24 hours a day! It does shut its doors every night at around 8 pm for all visitors to the park who are not staying a resort. (But guests are allowed to leisurely make their exit and shop as they go.) Each evening, one of the four theme parks within Disney World does stay open an extra two hours (and open an hour early) so that resort guests can enjoy Extra Magic Hours, and there is no extra fee for this. Not all attractions at the park are open during Extra Magic Hours, however.
There are many more Disney myths to be discovered – and many more future plans that will soon become history and perhaps fodder for their own Disney World myths.